Capturing Moods: A Bipolar Picture Diary

Recently, I have been clearing through all the photos on my phone. As I sorted through, I found a number of selfies and what shocked me was the difference in my appearance! Now when I say this I don’t mean changes of hairstyles, or weight loss or gain, but how each picture encapsulates my mood. From depression, to stability, to mania and back again, they were all there. This was never intentional; I was never conscious how often these photos framed my state of mind. I can see the pattern now; it is etched on my face. I find it quite unnerving to witness ‘from the outside’ the peaks and troughs of my mental state.  So many people have said how they’ve noticed a ‘twinkle in my eye’ during a manic episode, my eyes somehow look bigger and intensified. When I’ve looked back at photos of myself I’ve instantly recognised the heightened mood I was experiencing at the time.

 

This was mid summer. My drinking becomes more excessive when I’m hypomanic. I’ll drink everyday, even though I don’t need to drink to be sociable or enjoy myself. Friends and family will think I’m drunk when actually I’m completely sober. As you can imagine I definitely should not be drinking at this point. I also don’t care how I look. I’m wearing minimal make up and I haven’t sorted my hair.

Here my mania has increased. My eyes appear deeper and glisten with a fierce intensity. In both these pictures I was heading to a concert. If I’m already feeling manic, an event I’ve been looking forward to makes my high mood even more profound.


The two looks of depression. In the first photo I’m wearing minimal make up and my hair is scraped up. With the second I’ve added a touch of foundation and eye make up. I’m astute at covering up my depression, I can look ‘normal’ and happy; I’ll do my hair when I go out or go to work; I’ll wear clean clothes and will pay attention to my hygiene. When I’m at home, that all goes out the window. When I feel safe, alone, or with my husband, I don’t feel the need to hide my negative emotions and this is evident in my appearance.

I just can’t stop pulling ridiculous faces! I’m really not bothered how stupid I look and go around telling everyone how ‘malleable’ my face is! This bout of mania was short and sharp.

Tired, very tired. I have to inevitably come down and this is the result. The difference is always in the eyes. The dark circles and the pale face are indicative of how washed out and exhausted I’ve become. My immune system is also lowered after a lack of sleep, food and an almost unending amount of energy during a bout of mania.


Feeling confident and assured. This is always a worrying time for my family. When I say I’m feeling assured I mean my confidence materialises as aggression and hostility. I go looking for arguments and I usually find one.

This was Christmas time. I spent most of the time pretending I was ok, when I was actually really struggling. I was flitting between different houses, trying to see family as much as possible over Christmas and juggling work commitments. I’m secretly very tired and trying to take grip of my emotions in case I suddenly burst into tears.

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The is me now. I’m relatively stable and at the time of taking this picture I had just come through a severe bout of depression, which lasted about a month.

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3 Comments

  1. Faye February 21, 2017 / 10:17 am

    It’s very interesting to see all these. It’s almost like seeing a different person in some pictures.

    I’m glad you are feeling OK at the moment x

    • Katie Conibear February 21, 2017 / 1:30 pm

      I know! It’s strange looking back because I really do look different depending on my mood.

  2. PurpleOwl March 18, 2017 / 6:05 pm

    This has made me want to go and look at my old photos and see if I can recognise the signs too.

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